Sunday, November 8, 2009

Position of weakness

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the dogs have been left a little too long to their own devices.  Even the gimpy one is romping like he's a puppy.  And the smaller one, the one who's always a rascal, always seems like she's a toddler, has found a tiny piece of a tennis ball, and wants someone to throw it for her.  I'm telling you, if I believed in reincarnation, I'd almost believe she's our beloved Jemima returned to us.

Anyway, that's not what I wanted to post about tonight.  While we were removed from the world, sitting in an ICU waiting room, havoc was wreaked in Beve's world here in town.  One of the middle schools in town burned down Thursday--burned beyond salvaging. This is a horrific event in this small city where we live.  Many--most?--of the old timers around here went to that school.  And some of the current students are third generation attendees.  So it was a very sad thing to see it burn.  And I'm guessing those misplaced middle-school students (separated by grade in a high school, a middle school and an elementary school) will mourn their loss for the rest of the year.  And the teachers, whose lesson plans, curriculum, grades were housed in that burnt building?  They'll be starting from ground zero come tomorrow morning.  Teaching from a position of weakness, in a way.

Closer to home for Beve, a student from his own school died in a car accident Friday.  So tomorrow, Beve has to put on his "Crisis Intervention" hat and go to his own school to be available to bereaved kids. 

He's put on this hat many times in the dozen years he's worked in this school district.  He spent an entire week at an elementary school one when an eight year old had been murdered.  He's been at each high school after a suicide death of a student.  And the grief of high schoolers when a classmate has killed him/herself is pretty hard to deal with.  Even if the student who died wasn't a close friend, barely said a word, sat with his hood up over his bent head at the back of one's geometry class, the very idea that another 15-17 year old had taken his/her life is painful.  Painful especially when one has had the same inclination, when one feels lost, friendless, misunderstood.  Being a teen is a rough time.

And it's also true that many people actually become counselors out of their own desire to make sense of the world.  They operate out of their weakness, their need to be needed, they want to make everything right in their own lives, making things right in others, they hope, will aid in this process.  Over the years we've seen such people like this working alongside Beve.  They tend to have strong personalities, talk a lot about their own issues, and maybe, as the years progress, they heal themselves.  But not usually.  When crises arise, these people rise to the occasion, but never quite with the health and empathy of someone who is operating out of their strengths.

And over the 23 years of Beve's career as a counselor, he's heard many times how unusual he is because he's so healthy.  Without a doubt, he didn't become a counselor because he wanted help himself, or even because he'd had any experience with counseling.  He just loved kids and wanted to be with them in their worlds a little.  And, he'd tell you, because he was a terrible teacher.  Now I don't know if this is true, his teaching days were pre-me, but I do know he didn't have a strong passion for teaching. For talking with kids, for wanting to understand what makes them tick?  Loves it, never tires of it, always sees the wonder in them--no matter how bruised and damaged those kids are.

But tomorrow, when Beve talks to bereaved kids, he'll be feeling bereaved himself.  Under every conversation he'll also be thinking of the quiet room in that hospital in Seattle, where the woman who lays there, unmoving, unspeaking. bears only the slightest similarity to his sister.  For once, Beve will be working from a position of weakness. 

But even though we've long thought that isn't the best way to counsel for the most part, it is true that Paul often--always?--lived in just such a position.  1 Corinthians 2 says it just this way, "When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom...I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power..."

So I'll believe for Beve tomorrow.  And so, after all, I believe for all of us.  We all live in that position of weakness in one way or another.  And it's there, exactly there, that we are imbued with the Holy, holy power of our Holy, holy God.

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